I’ve learned recently that end of life care includes the phrase “no heroic measures.” And I understand what the term means, but to me, it seems all wrong. After all, Rose’s final days, as with so many of her other days, were filled with heroism. She faced this last test with the grace, good humour, and quiet strength familiar to all who knew her.
Throughout her long life, Rose suffered unimaginable hardship and tragedy. Yet, she did not grow embittered or hard, as so many others would have. Instead, she embraced the world with love and laughter – as if her heart had expanded to fill in and heal the places where it had been broken.
I feel so lucky to have witnessed Rose’s spirit and zest for life on those happy occasions when we would visit her, or she us. In those moments, our family felt complete. She brought us so much joy with her energy and eagerness to join every conversation, event, game, and outing. And over the last few years, she amazed us by laughing at every joke, despite being hard of hearing and dancing at every simcha, despite being barely able to walk. Rose performed miracles through her sheer determination to maximize every moment of delight that she could find.
Perhaps the highlight of our time together was getting to observe the absolutely overflowing love she had for my Dad – it seemed to radiate out of every inch of her. And in her presence, it felt as though the depths of my Dad’s being were revealed. There is so much of Rose in his gentle manner, kind soul, and sense of humour that is somehow both ever-present, yet also surprising.
Indeed, Rose always made me laugh when I least expected it. Once, after watching my Dad kill a fly with a rolled-up newspaper, Rose grabbed my arm in mock horror and wailed, “My son’s a MURDERER!” And just a few weeks ago, she told me that she liked when Glenda, her carer, took her outside for fresh air because otherwise she would get “too stale.”
The courage to love deeply through despair, to dance through pain, to laugh often and much, and to suffer with grace – heroic measures, every one.
Rose was a wonder of a person and though we will miss her dearly, we are blessed with her example that the truest way to honour the dark times is by rejoicing in the light.
And as we mourn the loss of her, there is comfort in knowing that she is now reunited with the many departed loved ones who have been waiting patiently for her on the other side.